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What we've been playing

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28th of October, 2022

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Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a little bit about some of the games we’ve found ourselves playing over the last few days. This time: bricks, dungeons, and cards.

If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We’ve Been Playing,
here’s our archive.

Lego Bricktales, PC

Lego Bricktales trailer.

I’ve been itching to play Lego Bricktales ever since I read Tom’s review: a Lego game in which you actually use Lego bricks to make things! Solve problems, build bridges and vehicles and all sorts. And then your jumbled solutions appear in the world. Nice.

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I’ve put a few hours in so far, and I’ve mainly been in awe of how good everything feels. Building Lego inside a computer has sounded like a bit of a fudge ever since that Douglas Coupland book JPod. Or was it Microserfs? Anyway it’s nothing like a fudge here: one brick at a time, simple controls to rotate and raise and lower the piece in space, and a lovely sense of connection.

In terms of real Lego bricks, this is called Clutch Power, incidentally: the matter of how nicely one brick sticks to another. Lego has it, and the competitors often don’t. Bricktales has it too. Now I’m off to build a bridge.

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Chris Donlan

Phantom Abyss, Xbox

Phantom Abyss trailer.

I played Phantom Abyss when it was first out as an early access game on PC. Now it’s an early access game on Game Pass. It feels good to play it on the sofa, but there’s an added bonus: so many new players to adventure alongside!

Phantom Abyss is clever stuff. You explore a procedurally generated dungeon in first person, avoiding traps and collecting loot, all while being chased by a terrifying dungeon guardian. The twist is that people all over the world are served the same dungeon until someone survives all the way to the end. You play alongside the ghosts of people who have tried and failed before you. That’s unnerving. But the glory of it! If you reach the end you will be the only person who ever completed this dungeon.

That premise works if the dungeons feel distinct, and while they don’t fully hit that mark at the moment, they’re well built with nice set-piece rooms that give a touch of authorship to proceedings. To distract you elsewhere is lovely movement: I dig the slide move, but I adore the way I can leap across huge gaps with the whip.

I loaded up earlier this week and it suddenly felt like there were a lot more ghosts alongside me in the dungeon. That’s Game Pass I guess: a boost in player numbers. Then I died, quite quickly, and I became a ghost just like all the others.

Chris Donlan

Marvel Snap, iOS

Marvel Snap trailer.

Apologies – I know we’ve already had one Marvel Snap piece this week, but it’s the main thing I’ve been playing outside of stuff for review, and it’s also reminded me what a magical time for card games the first few weeks can be.

Yes, for one thing it’s because not everybody you play is an absolute master just yet – the meta isn’t punishing you and you aren’t up against people who have already spent thousands of pounds on cards and learned hundreds of hours of lessons. It’s a pleasure for sure to play a new game when everyone’s learning.

More than that, though, I’m just really enjoying the cards – and enjoying not knowing all the cards and what they can do. This means that every other game someone plays a card I’ve never seen before, or a card that works in a way I couldn’t imagine. Hulk Buster! Just saw that card for the first time and it properly dazzled me. I lost, obv, but it was worth it just to see some Hulk Busting on display.

Honestly, every other game is like this at the moment – something I’ve never seen, something I have seen used in a way I could not have predicted. Marvel Snap is a bit of a melancholy experience I suspect: I play it knowing that soon there will come a day when the game has just evolved away from me. But until then, what a thing this is.

Chris Donlan

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